Biography: Alvin Sandell was born on March 1, 1922, in Hornbeck, Louisiana. He was the son of Alvin Floyd Sandell and Lela Curtis. He was the sixth son born of fifteen children and his father was a preacher but had worked as a lumberjack in his earlier years. Alvin only went to school for a few years before having to quit to help out on the farm.
In 1940 and 1941, the government took the family’s land to create Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The Fort is approximately 56 miles west of Alexandria. They were told to leave immediately and had to leave almost all of their food out in the fields. They removed all the lumber they could from the old house and loaded it on a wagon and squatted on some land approximately ten miles away, near Toro, LA. Because the new land was heavily wooded and needed to be cleared for growing food, little time was spent building a home. They spent most of the first year living on a dirt floor. Today, two monuments stand in recognition of the sacrifice the Sandells and many other families made to support the war effort. The Sandell name is shown on both monuments, see the photos below.
Service Time: Alvin entered the service on December 18, 1942, at Shreveport, LA, but was allowed to stay home for Christmas that year, and left December 26, for Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas. He had his basic training there and was assigned to C Company of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. Alvin’s cousin, Huston, was also assigned to the 823rd but became a Medic in B Company. Both were then sent with the unit to Camp Hood, TX, for additional training. Alvin reached the rank of PFC within the first six months and Corporal a few months later. He was promoted to Sergeant before leaving the U.S. and served as a TD Commander.
Alvin married the former Zelma Mae Cox on June 5, 1942. She was the daughter of Zebulon Cox and Minnie Berry of Toro, LA. The couple made their home in Gretna, LA. They had two children while living in Many, LA. Jeanette was born in 1944 and Ronald in 1947. When he returned home, Alvin worked for the US GSA (General Services Administration) and in his spare time he enjoyed fishing and shrimping.
Alvin passed away on June 30, 1973. I want to thank Alvin’s nephew, Randy, for providing this information and photos for this tribute.